... Yep, you certainly did read that title right!
It’s 13:22pm on a Sunday afternoon. I’m sat in the Accident and Emergency unit of a random hospital in an area I’ve never even heard of.
Just 2 hours ago, I was dancing around the house, cleaning my bathroom, blasting out Biggie, wearing a charcoal face mask.
I thought making my tuna and sweet potato fishcakes for tea would be the most exciting task the day had in store.
I had no plans and no expectations for the day ahead, and I was happy with that; what with still being a little sore from my Covid vaccination just three days ago.
Upon passing my home office, I noticed that the hamster was up and about.
Ah, good girl, I thought, Must be a Biggie fan. She’s not usually up at this time.
“I love it when you call me Big Mar-mite!” I rapped. “Put ya hands in the a-yer, if you a true ham-ster.”
As I poured some food into her bowl, she descended in a mad dash of excitement (can relate – I exert a similar reaction when I so much as smell jelly beans).
In her feverish delirium, she caught me with her mini razor teeth, puncturing the skin on my finger.
You know when you cut your leg while shaving in the shower and it bleeds buckets? And you get out and it drips all over the bath mats and through the house – a trail of destruction between the bathroom and the medicine cabinet, seemingly five miles away?
Well it was like that.
I followed the bog-standard advice: cleaned the bite vigorously with soap and water, before lathering it up with an antiseptic wipe and whacking a plaster on it.
I’m a bit of hypochondriac, so it was no surprise when I found myself cautiously Googling, ‘Do I need a tetanus jab after a hamster bite?’
For the first time ever, my overactive, medically panicked brain actually appeared to be correct!
Shit! I really did need a tetanus jab!
With shaking hands and a pounding heart, I called 111.
While on hold, I thought about what I’d had for breakfast. Biscuit spread straight from the jar – again. Still, no regrets that it was probably going to turn out to be my ‘last supper.’
By the time I got through, I had pretty much planned my own funeral and delegated my houseplants to various family members.
111 also confirmed that my suspicions were correct: I needed a tetanus jab, urgently. Well, within four hours, was the actual advice, but I took that as GO NOW OR YOU’RE GOING TO DIE WITHIN THE NEXT HALF HOUR.
Apparently, my nearest centre was located at a hospital which might as well have been in Japan. I’d never heard of it, nor had I heard of the town it was in.
I had seven minutes to frantically scrub my face clear of charcoal, change into something other than my ‘There’s some HO’s in this house’ Christmas jumper, and knock back a handful of Choco Rain cereal.
One train and one taxi later, and here I am: A&E.
You literally could NOT write my life sometimes.
I’m not going to lie - I do feel like a bit of a fraud.
I’m surrounded by crying children, people who’ve been hit by cars, and pregnant women with chest pains.
... And I’m just here like ‘Hey guys, I’ve been bitten by my hamster.’
People are groaning in pain and silently weeping behind their face masks, and I’m just biding my time making a list of books I’ve read this year in the back of my diary, while listening to Dr Dre on my pre-1930’s iPod.
Songs Of Praise is playing on the TV, which looks as thoughts it’s been transported here from medieval times. It makes for a very morbid setting. Thank Christ for Still Dre.
The waiting room smells like Millie’s Cookies which have been dipped in antibacterial spray. A very odd, yet intriguing combination.
The current waiting time is 1 hour, 40 minutes.
I’ve already noticed that most people who came in after me have been seen to.
I mean, I’ll let off the person who practically crawled in with half of their hand missing after an unfortunate incident with swede and a knife, but what about everyone else?
There was a man before who said he’d trapped his elbow in a ladder, and he’s already been sorted. He’s just announced to the whole waiting room that he might make it home to watch the second half of the Rangers match after all.
1) How on earth does one manager to trap their ELBOW in a ladder?
2) Surely to God that’s not quite as urgent as impending tetanus??
Do they already think I’m a joke?
Maybe they genuinely think this IS a joke, and that I’m some crazed member of the public who’s making a menace of herself by inventing outrageous, false injury claims involving rodents.
Perhaps they’re issuing a warrant to get me sectioned AS I WRITE!
I keep going through all of things I’ve still got to do when I get home: finish cleaning the bathroom, bleach the en-suite, change the bed, wash my hair, put on a wool wash, MAKE FISH CAKES...
I quite fancied watching that Notorious BIG documentary on Netflix too, but never mind, I’ll just hang around A&E waiting for the NHS to put another hole in my arm instead.
Couldn’t make it up. Terrified of needles and have successfully managed to avoid them for decades, and now it looks like I’m going to have two in the space of three days.
The Next Day –
1 hour, 40 minutes turned to 3 hours, 30 minutes.
The hospital vending machine swallowed my £1.20 and my Boost bar got stuck.
Finally, it was my turn.
Well, I have never been so embarrassed.
“Take a seat, Miss Bradley. Now I understand you have suffered an animal bite, is that correct?”
“Okay, so from the list, please confirm the type of animal that has bitten you today: dog, cat, horse, bull, snake, spider, other.”
I stared at the nurse. “Other. It was a hamster. I thought that would be on my notes... I did explain this to the lady when I- ”
“Was the hamster wild, or was it your pet?”
My jaw nearly hit the floor. (Which I guess is a good sign, as I’ve heard lockjaw is apparently a sign of tetanus).
“She’s my pet. She’s called Marmite, and she's Syrian. Our old hamster was Russian, and he was REALLY aggy. He once bit through a pint glass."
“Can I take a look at the wound?”
I peeled back the plaster to reveal... Nothing. Like, literally, nothing. You would have needed some sort of specialist telescope to see the extremely faint bite mark.
I felt like a RIGHT knob. Wanted the ground to just swallow me up into the earth’s core and spit me out into some far off solar system, where I would be free to spend the rest of my days dying of shame.
“111 told me I needed to come within four hours for a tetanus jab! I haven’t had one for over 10 years.”
Luckily, I was reassured that I had done the right thing by following the advice of 111, and was urged to renew my tetanus vaccination with my GP as soon as possible.
They said they’d usually issue antibiotics for animal bites to be on the safe side, but due to the small size of my bite, they were happy to allow me to simply monitor it.
The nurse even got two of his colleagues to peer at my bite, which I’m sure they all had a right good laugh about later on.
My teeny-tiny wound was cleaned, the plaster was replaced, and then I was sent on my way. Good God, you couldn’t get me out of there fast enough. It was almost as bad as the time I fell into a cactus in Ibiza and tried to convince the hotel manager to call me an ambulance.
“Please do come straight back if you think it’s become infected or you start to feel unwell.”
“Will do!” I replied brightly, while vowing to never set foot in that hospital again.
I got home and the washing machine exploded water ALL OVER my kitchen floor.
Finished watching Behind Her Eyes, and have come to the conclusion that Marzipan has done a ‘Rob’ to Marmite.
When I took the food bag out to the bin, it burst all over the drive. A bit of stray carrot landed just south of next door’s Range Rover.
Cara Jasmine Bradley